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Miami Dolphins

Gameday – Dolphins look to keep budding playoff hopes alive in Buffalo

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

What: Miami Dolphins (6-7) vs. Buffalo Bills (7-6)

Where: New Era Field, Orchard Park, N.Y.

When: 1 p.m.

Latest line/Over-under: Dolphins +3/39.5

 

 Why you should watch

It seems rather hard to believe given their 4-7 start but the Dolphins could still make the playoffs. Really, they could. It’s a long shot, but by winning each of their last two games the Dolphins have climbed back into the hunt for the last AFC Wild Card berth. And for what it’s worth, the Dolphins actually looked like a playoff team while beating up on the Patriots last week. What the Dolphins have to do now is avoid suffering a letdown against a lesser team. No, the Bills are not a lesser team than the Dolphins but they are a lesser team than the Patriots, which means the Dolphins will have to find a way to bring the same kind of intensity and execution to this game that they did their game against New England. If they can do that they just might make the last couple weeks of the season very interesting.

 

Key on: Dolphins LT Laremy Tunsil

 Dolphins coach Adam Gase has been rather pleased with the play of left tackle Laremy Tunsil of late. Gase says that Tunsil, who made the move back to left tackle after playing guard as a rookie last year, is finally starting to understand some of the nuances of his job. That may be true, but it’s clear Tunsil still has a ways to go before he reaches the level the Dolphins need him to play at. Tunsil has allowed seven quarterback hits this year, tied for the sixth-most among the 78 offensive tackles Pro Football Focus has graded. His challenge today will be stopping Bills edge rusher Jerry Hughes, who is proving to be one of the better run stoppers in the league. Per PFF, Hughes has so far graded out as the fifth-best defensive end in the league against the run. We’ll know a little more about just where Tunsil stands in his development after this matchup.

 

Statistically speaking

 Drake has run the ball 48 times the past two weeks. That’s six more carries than he had the previous 11 games combined and that heavy workload probably has the Dolphins a bit concerned. Though Drake has gained 234 yards off those 48 carries (4.8 yards per carry) the Dolphins are still  hesitant to over-work him out of fear he might not be fit enough to handle every-down duties just yet. With Damien Williams down the Dolphins have had no choice but to lean more heavily on Drake but you have to wonder if he might soon start to feel the effects of all those extra touches. Drake has shown no signs of slowing down just yet but he’s simply not accustomed to handling the ball as much as he has the past two weeks. At some point the extra duty may start to catch up to him. The Dolphins just have to hope this isn’t the week that happens.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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